In the trial of Richard “Alex” Murdaugh, a disbarred lawyer from South Carolina accused of murdering his wife and son, the judge has granted permission for the jury to visit the family estate where the killings occurred.
This decision came after Murdaugh’s defense attorney, Dick Harpootlian, requested the visit to provide the jurors with a better understanding of the layout and spatial relationships of the crime scene, specifically the dog kennels where the murders took place on June 7, 2021.
During the sixth week of the trial, Judge Newman approved the defense’s request for the jury to visit the Moselle estate, despite the prosecution’s objections.
The “jury view” will occur after the testimony from four or five rebuttal witnesses for the prosecution on Tuesday.
With the defense resting its case after calling three final witnesses on Monday, the jury will hear closing arguments and begin deliberations in the second half of the week following their visit to Moselle.
The Murdaugh murder trial has attracted significant media attention due to the Murdaugh family’s prominent legal status in South Carolina. Richard “Alex” Murdaugh, a member of the influential family, was indicted in July on two counts of murder and two counts of weapon possession.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and could face a prison sentence of 30 years to life if found guilty.
Last week, Richard “Alex” Murdaugh took the witness stand and admitted to lying about his whereabouts on the night his wife and son were killed. However, he maintained that he had no involvement in their deaths.
What investigators said about the incident?
According to investigators, Paul was shot in the feed room located near the kennels, and Maggie was killed nearby. Defense attorney Harpootlian argued that a visit to the Murdaugh estate, which spans 1,800 acres, would provide the jury with a better understanding of the small size and location of the feed room in relation to Maggie’s body and other features of the property.
Defense attorney Harpootlian argued that seeing the spatial layout of the Murdaugh estate in person was necessary to fully comprehend the case, stating “You just can’t really appreciate the spatial issues without actually seeing them.”
Despite the defense’s request, lead prosecutor Creighton Waters objected to the jury visiting the estate, citing changes in the property since 2021 and the possibility of requiring additional testimony from the state.
During his testimony, Murdaugh presented his own theory of the murders, suggesting that someone upset over his son’s involvement in a fatal boating accident in 2019 was responsible. However, he admitted that he had no evidence to support this theory.
The prosecution, led by Waters, has sought to depict Murdaugh as a habitual liar who committed the murders amidst significant financial difficulties, including drug addiction and fraudulent schemes to embezzle funds from his clients and law partners, in order to maintain a lavish lifestyle.
What Forensic Team report shows?
The jury was presented with testimony from forensic experts during the trial.
Cellphone video with audio was shown to the jury, leading to Murdaugh altering his account of his whereabouts on the night of the murders.
The defense called three witnesses to the stand on Monday, including two forensic experts who both challenged certain aspects of the investigation conducted by law enforcement.
Crime scene analyst Tim Palmbach was one of the experts who testified and suggested that more than one shooter was likely involved, citing evidence such as the use of two different firearms.
Palmbach expressed his belief, stating “My opinion is the totality of the evidence is more suggestive of a two-shooter scenario.”